Writing Challenge Day 30: Monitoring Mixology - Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Bourbon

I hope this post finds you and your family happy, healthy, and warm during the holiday season.

For those who imbibe, I wanted to share a couple of recipes with you. One for the warmer months, and one for the colder. Why both? Well, I don’t want to alarm you, but March is only 61 days away, making it a full year since lockdown started. Soon it will be warm again, and we’ll still be at home.

Before I get started, I want to mention that alcohol sales have increased significantly during the pandemic. If you or someone you know is showing signs of alcohol abuse, please search for help here.

OK, first up, let’s start with my current favorite drink for cold weather, a bourbon Manhattan.  

Luxury Manhattan

Ingredients (makes two drinks)

  • 4 ounces bourbon (I use Larceny, because Costco sells a handle at a decent price)
  • 2 ounces sweet vermouth (remember to refrigerate your sweet vermouth after opening)
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters (I sometimes use Peychaud's)
  • 1 teaspoon Luxardo cherry syrup (only Luxardo cherries allowed at my bar)
  • 1 or 3 Luxardo cherries (or none, if you prefer)

I pour everything into a glass shaker with ounces clearly marked; this saves time as opposed to measuring everything by hand. I also add a small amount of the syrup from the Luxardo cherry jar, and either 1 or 3 cherries. Never add 2 of anything to a drink (ice cubes, olives, etc.), it’s bad luck (as if 2020 needed more bad luck, right?).

After a quick stir, I pour into a double rocks glass and then add one round ice sphere. I use a mold to make the ice spheres, so I guess you could say this drink requires some advanced prep.

Remember, this recipe makes two drinks, so either share with a friend or cut the ingredients in half.

Next is my current favorite warm weather drink, a variant of a bourbon sour smash.

Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour

Ingredients (makes two drinks)

  • 4 ounces bourbon (again, I use Larceny because reasons)
  • 2 ounces lemon/lime juice (I do one once of each)
  • 1 ounce maple syrup (not the cheap stuff you get at the pancake house, a step above that)
  • Seltzer water (I use Polar Seltzer Ginger Lime Mule flavored)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (optional)

The rosemary sprigs are optional. Should you decide to use them, crush one sprig in the bottom of the shaker and use the other sprig as a garnish. I then add the juice, then the syrup, then the bourbon. I top the shaker with the seltzer, but this is optional. After a quick stir, I pour into Mason jars and add ice to fill. You can use whatever glass you want, as choice of glass depends on the amount of seltzer and ice you use. Add the remaining sprig of rosemary and take a photo to show your hipster drink to the world, like this:


Oh, I guess I added a lemon wedge to that batch. Look, it’s called a smash for a reason. Feel free to experiment to your own taste.

I hope you enjoy these recipes, and please drink responsibly.


Top Comments

  • I'm not much of a drinker myself. I have known quite a few people over my lifetime with an alcohol problem at one point or another. This meant that it didn't appeal to me as much as most people I know. Luckily, a sober driver never goes out of style and instead of friends and family arguing over who needs to be the DD (you should always have a safe ride if you are not home - this year notwithstanding) I tend to offer up myself as DD because I feel no compulsion to drink. I have a great time regardless.

    That being said, when I do drink, I am a social drinker. There are specific game nights - most involving Cards Against Humanity or Jackbox - where drinking takes it to another level. There are also occasions where I do want to drink - girls nights, occasionally (bad) dancing, etc. I don't have any good recipes though. I nearly always drink one of two things - Coconut Rum with Diet Coke and/or Purple Gecko shots. I have done almost none of either this year, but one day I will partake again in the odd happy hour beverage. I will enjoy my uncultured taste in alcohol as well. 

  • Thank you for the post.   Although I do not drink adult beverages at this time in my life, I appreciate a good recipe.    I used to be pretty good at the mixology.  No I focus on being a foodie.   If I ever perfect the chef's art, I will focus on my efforts of opening a water bar.   All water all the time, and things made with water.   Flavored in house, all handcrafted etc.   Find something which is free and find a way to charge for it, isn't that the American way?

  • Ha! I gleefully yield to your knowledge of anise-based alcoholic beverages. You had me giggling, especially with those side notes! The last one brought to mind tales of my great-grandmother making chokecherry wine for 'sacramental purposes' during prohibition in Fargo, ND. At least my great-grandmother didn't have to flee town! As for those prohibition era feds' opinions, there's no accounting for taste. I'd take arak over gin just about anytime.

  • I note with interest that arak, ouzo, sambuca, and pastis all arrive at the same destination (more or less) by vastly different routes.

    • Sambuca uses a grain alcohol like ethanol or moonshine, anise, elderberry, sugar, and water.
    • Ouzo also starts with a pure grain alcohol (although many start with vodka), along with angelica root, mace, anise extract, sugar, and water.
    • Pastis (which, it should be noted, was created in France after absinthe was made illegal) can include any one of about 50 different herbs and/or spices, but usually includes vodka, anise seeds, badiane, licorice, caraway, and sugar.
    • Arak uses white grapes (or grape juice and yeast), anise seeds, water. The use of grapes/grape juice is the reason it is not considered kosher unless production is supervised by the proper authorities.
    • As a side note, a variant of Arak produced in the US during prohibition (and afterward) uses gin instead of grape juice as the base liquid.*

    To continue with the metaphor I started earlier, this is proof (of a kind) of how events that appear, on first taste, to be the same as others we may have experienced arise from a completely different set of causes. It's a reminder that we cannot apply the same solution to two different problems even when they appear to be similar.

    * as another side note, during prohibition federal officers would go after folks who made gin, but not those who turned the gin into arak because, and this is a direct quote, "that sh*t ain't drinkable"
    * as a final side note, in 1924 my grandfather had a profitable home-based business until someone tipped him off that he'd shown up on someone's radar. At that point Yehudah Adatto got on a train in Seattle, and Leo Adato got off the train in New York City. The rest is history, but I submit that as proof my "screw the rules" tendencies are hereditary.

  • Arak is really a high-alcohol Sambuca minus the sugar content. Both have a nice anisette flavor. I've been known to enjoy sipping either, but probably prefer the arak for sipping straight up.

    I like Heaven Hill. I even know someone in the DC area who grew up near the Shapiras in Louisville. I think Heaven Hill and other places make bourbons that would better go with your recipe than Larceny. I suspect that a high-rye bourbon (as opposed to a wheated bourbon like Larceny), or even a nice, spicy rye whiskey, would punch that cocktail right up. I'd highly suggest giving it a try for a change of pace.

    I have been known to make cocktails from time to time. When I was in grad school, I'd often host Shabbat lunches. (There were only three kosher kitchens among the student population; we took turns.) Besides cooking -- that was the first time I owned a smoker; little electric vertical bullet smoker that worked wonders for a grad student -- I liked to serve booze. Someone told me someone was coming who was having a birthday and liked Blue Hawaiians. When we got to dessert, I walked out with one and put it in front of her. I don't think Ill ever forget the (happily) stunned look on her face! I made Long Island Iced Tea by the pitcher, since I knew people liked them. I think the favorite cocktail I used to make was a tequila sunrise. I had these plain, round glasses in which the drink looked fantastic with the grenadine slowly rising from the bottom of the glass. I almost always came back with a request from someone when I'd bring one of those out to serve.

    As for me, though, I tend to be a whisk(e)y guy, neat with maybe a small drop or splash of water. I will always love some of Scotland's singly-malted ambrosia: highland, island, Campbelltown, or those great Islay whiskies I usually tend to go for. I also won't turn up my nose at something from elsewhere. The Japanese make some fine whisky, and I even once had a really pleasant one from New Zealand. Lately, I have been having a lot of fun with American whiskies. There is so much creativity going on in the USA right now. I have even bought good local whiskey at a farmer's market in DC. Of course there are great bourbons out there, but I've had a lot of great rye whiskies recently. Anchor Distillery from San Francisco has some cinnamon-spicy nearly sweet ryes. Having Catoctin Creek reachable nearby doesn't hurt on that account. Balcones Distillery in Waco, TX, has done a lot with local Texas ingredients. I'd suggest trying some of their Brimstone smoked whisky with some of that great BBQ around SolarWinds HQ in Austin.

Thwack - Symbolize TM, R, and C